Guilty until proven Innocent
April 26, 2010


Last week, the state of Arizona passed the most… for lack of a better word… Fascistic… anti illegal immigration law in the history of the United States, allowing police officers to ask for “proof of citizenship” of anyone they suspect is in the country illegally. And if that person can not produce such identification (ie: a birth certificate) right then and there, they can be hauled off to jail.

Think about all the American principles this violates. First, the standard for searching a person is “probable cause” not “reasonable suspicion“. You can’t just require a person to “produce evidence” based upon “the shoes they wear“. And more dramatically, arresting someone because they can’t produce their “papers, please”, deems EVERY person “guilty until PROVEN innocent” by producing proof of citizenship.

Incredibly, during the Fox “news” Sunday roundtable discussion last Sunday, Bret Hume said TWO amazing things. First, he called the Arizona law “draconian and likely unconstitutional”, and then in his next breath, called it “reasonable” for Arizona to have passed it because of the size of the problem they are having. You get that folks… under the right circumstances, “draconian and unconstitutional” is completely acceptable to Right-wingers.

During that same roundtable, co-lead-wingnut Bill Kristol… after calling himself “a Liberal when it comes to Civil Rights” (OMG)… defends the Arizona law, saying, “I don’t think it will violate anyone’s civil rights“. First, Bill, if you were really a “liberal when it comes to civil rights”, you’d know the standard isn’t whether you THINK a law MAY violate someones rights, the standard is whether it CAN. Only Conservatives are quick to sell out their principles and everything they claim to stand for when it becomes convenient to do so (eg: “deficits don’t matter” and “no nation building”.)

Later that same Sunday during the roundtable on ABC’s “This Week”, guest panelist Paul Krugman pointed out the utter hypocrisy of Tea Baggers, who are out there shouting every day about the over-reach of government power, yet are among some of the biggest supporters of the AZ anti-immigration bill. And while Krugman did allude to corporations “lik[ing] their cheap labor”, NO ONE on ANY of the Sunday shows suggested (as radio’s Thom Hartmann so frequently does) that the REAL problem is “illegal employers” attracting people to come here… and/or stay here illegally by providing them with jobs. It would be FAR more appropriate (and Constitutional) to crack down on companies hiring illegal immigrants than the immigrants themselves. Not only is it easier to enforce, but you don’t violate anyone’s civil rights to do it. You also eliminate a key incentive for attracting people to come here illegally or allows them to stay in the country illegally. (Kristol believes they are coming here because the U.S. is “the giant welfare state to the North” that… in Kristol’s fantasy-world… is providing non-citizens with free health care, cheap prescriptions, and Social Security checks.)

Bill “Liberal on civil rights” Kristol defended the AZ law by arguing that he doesn’t believes it will affect “that many people”, predicting that “the [worst] civil rights violation” would be someone “stopped perhaps on the street and asked to provide his driver’s license … that’s going to occur 5 times or 8 times or 13 times”. Not surprisingly, before the law had even passed, it has already claimed its first victim… an American-born Hispanic truck driver was ARRESTED when he was unable to produce his birth certificate after being stopped for driving while brown. As I predicted earlier, I don’t envision too many Norwegians being caught up in this dragnet.

The Arizona law does something no other law does in this country: it assumes guilt based upon mere suspicion by an individual and requires suspects to prove their innocence rather than lay the burden of guilt upon the prosecutor. It also targets an entire class of people for increased suspicion based solely upon appearance. We’ve already seen that in this country with black people. But if you go back in history, you will find NUMEROUS accounts of light-skinned blacks “passing” for other races: Italian, Arabic, Jewish, Spanish, etc… allowing some African-Americans to do things other “negros” could not at the time. (A famous 1959 movie entitled “Imitation of Life” was based on this premise).

And just as certain “light-skinned blacks” could avoid detection in early America, there are certainly “Hispanics that don’t look Hispanic” that won’t have to worry about being stopped by police and forced to “produce their papers” on command. I suspect we may soon see many more clean-shaven Mexicans with bleach-blond hair and wearing Polo shirts in the state of Arizona this year.

(ADDENDUM: Investigative reporter Greg Palast says the REAL intent of the AZ law is to intimidate & harass Hispanic voters into not showing up come November.)

o AZ Senator John McCain calls the new law “a good tool” while questioning its legality.

(Blog Update: Due to an apparent lack of interest and time constraints, I am discontinuing the “Link of the Day” and changing it to “Interesting Links”.)


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April 26, 2010 · Admin Mugsy · 4 Comments - Add
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: Politics, Right-wing Facism, Unconstitutional

4 Responses

  1. fastfeat - April 26, 2010

    “First, the standard for searching a person is “reasonable doubt” not “suspicion“.”

    I believe you meant “probable cause” here, not “reasonable doubt”, no? From the Fourth Amendment:

    The right of the people to be secure…against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

    And actually, I believe they’re using the standard of “reasonable suspicion”, which requires less evidence than “probable cause”, which requires substantially less evidence. A common application is, “Have you ever been arrested for drug possession before?” by cops who want to perform a warrantless search of someone suspected of drug possession.

    In either case, I agree that neither criterion appears to be fulfilled under this new “law”.

  2. Mugsy - April 26, 2010

    Blame the 6am blahs. Correcting it now. Thx.

  3. fastfeat - April 26, 2010

    No problem.

    Upon rereading my comment, I was a little repetitive, and I had my coffee. I blame Monday…

  4. Grant in Texas - April 26, 2010

    As much as some would like to believe or hope for, there are many untrained, even bad cops out there. My father was a deputy sheriff for many years and was become upset with colleagues whom he considered rogue officers. This was in Indiana where the county is displayed on a license plate. To not offend voters for the Republican sheriffs my father served under, mostly those from outside of the county would be followed until they inched over the speed limit, rolled through a stop sign, etc., even as locals (read voters) were spared. My home county near the Michigan and Illinois state lines still has 100% white police officers/deputy sheriffs in 2010! We even had “Jim Crow” traditions in our restaurants/hotels back in the 1950’s. So a dark skinned driver passing through was more apt to be stopped (as you know they are ALL criminals! /snark). In a county of mostly white residents (20,000 population except for Mexican dishwashers) where most everyone knows each other and know which party primary one votes in, known Democrats might be ticketed by a Republican sheriff or in other years under a Democratic sheriff, vice versa. But in Indiana chances are that most often one will be driving through a county “ruled” by a Republican sheriff. So watch which campaign stickers one places on one’s vehicle.

    We already know that a racist Sheriff Arpaio rules Maricopa County, Arizona. And Arpaio serves in an urban area where there are many journalists to watch him. Think of those police in the many remote areas of that state who serve away from the public view.

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